How Co-oping Expanded My Horizons and Prepared Me for the Workforce

 

Savoy Co-op Blog sq
by Chelsea Savoy, Chemical Engineering


 

Lamar is one of the top ranked engineering schools in the nation and for good reason. It has not only prepared me academically with all the knowledge I need, but also professionally through organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. The college of engineering has also been able to provide for me financially through several scholarships that have alleviated burdens and honed in my focus on my academic and professional career. 
Lamar University's Cooperative (or Co-op) Program has been especially important. My first ever career fair my sophomore year I was blessed enough to receive not only a summer internship but also my first co-op for the following summer and fall semesters. The two positions were for BASF/TOTAL Petrochemicals in Port Arthur and WestRock in Evadale. I had not known what a co-op even was coming into college, especially being a first-generation student with absolutely no engineers in my family. Luckily, the college of engineering and the organizations I was a part of helped advise me on the decision as well as how to manage my future academic schedule. 
From these two incredible learning opportunities, my professional career was launched. After coming back from my co-op, I then attended the SHPE national conference and received a total of 4 internship offers rom large national companies. I ended up taking an offer from Boeing and moved to St. Louis, Missouri the next summer to work at their defense, space, and security headquarters. This was an incredible experience getting to see the defense side of the aerospace industry as well as getting to mingle with the over 300 interns at the St. Louis site. Traveling out of state was very exciting and sometimes scary, but I am so glad I took the opportunity. I grew not only as an engineer but also as a person, and I will forever be grateful for that. 
My next and final co-op experience was working for Anheuser-Busch in Los Angeles, California. I had attended both the SWE and SHPE conferences the fall following my internship with Boeing and was offered 2 positions from those conferences working for major companies. Meanwhile I was also applying online for Anheuser-Busch. I ended up accepting AB and moved to Los Angeles in January of 2020. I worked there for 6 months and during that time the world was turned upside down with the corona virus pandemic. Luckily, I was able to stay on and continue working with the help of the safety precautions and mandates from the state of California as well as AB. It was once again somewhat of a frightening experience being so far away from my family for such an extended period of time and having everything be very uncertain. With the help of facetime, my coworkers/friends, and the beautiful scenery of southern California I somehow made it through. 
I am now beginning my senior year and am approaching the finish line. I can say I have accomplished working in several different industries, having moved across the country not once but twice, and accepted a full-time job offer that will move me all the way to the east coast after graduation. I give all thanks to the College of Engineering, to my family, my friends, and good coffee!